Rules of Boxing at the Summer Olympics:

Summer Olympics boxing, and amateur boxing altogether, is quite different from the professional sport. From the specific format of the Olympic competition to the scoring and judging system used, there’s a lot to know before you begin watching.

Use this quick guide to get yourself up to date on the most important rules and guidelines for summer Olympics boxing at the 2012 London Games.

Summer Olympics Boxing Tournament Format

Boxing at the 2012 London Olympics will include a total of 286 fighters, consisting of 250 men spread across 10 weight classes, and 36 women spread across three weight classes.

The fighters aren’t necessarily distributed evenly, however. On the men’s side, weight classes have either 16, 26 or 28 competitors, while each women’s weight class has 12. This marks the first Olympics in history where women’s boxing will be included.

Olympics boxing is a single elimination tournament across each weight class. Bronze medals are awarded to the loser of each semi-final match, as opposed to having an extra fight between the two losing semifinalists in order to determine 3rd place.

Men’s fights last for three 3-minute rounds, and women’s bouts last for four 2-minute rounds.

Summer Olympics Boxing Judging and Scoring

Judging, and the overall guidelines for amateur and Olympics boxing, is convoluted – feel free to look up the entire 85 page file here. It’s a system that lends itself easily to controversy, even if there was no such thing as bias or scandal.

In Olympics boxing, five judges each keep track of clean punches landed during the course of a fight. A clean punch means one which is landed in a scoring zone – front of the head, or middle of the body – and one which connects on the knuckles, designated by the white tip of each glove.

Formerly, judges needed to press a button at the same time as one another in order to signify a cleanly landed, official point. This was a terrible idea both in theory and practice.

Now, the point totals for each judge are essentially averaged out with one another while eliminating the outliers, producing the final score. This is at least a positive step forward to improving a major problem even if major flaws remain.

The fighter with the most points from clean punches at the end of a match is the winner. The running scores can be seen by crowds and also by the competitors themselves.

Important notes include the fact that knockdowns do not translate into any extra points. There’s also no differentiation between hard, damaging blows of any kind, and softer shots, such as quick jabs. Additionally, body blows are rarely counted as cleanly landed punches by the judges.

Additional Guidelines for Summer Olympics Boxing

The inside of the ring measures 6.1 meters on each side, or approximately 20 feet.

Fighters are assigned to either the red or blue corner before a fight, and wear uniforms and protective gear to show this accordingly.

There is at least one judge stationed on each side of the ring.

Boxing gloves weigh 10 ounces, headgear weighs no more than 16 ounces.


This article was first published by Jake Emen on Yahoo! Sports & News, as part of a series of Olympic boxing, on May 17, 2012.